Women in Islam

Author: Ibn Kammuna

In this article, I try to investigate the status of women in Islam. I do that relying on some stories about the prophet, the hadith, and the Qur’an. I end the article with a substantive conclusion.

A truly wonderful story about the prophet Muhammad tells that a man came to him and asked him: “Who deserves my obedience?” The prophet told him: “Your Mother.” The man asks for a second and a third time: ”Who” and the prophet gives a similar answer: “Your Mother.” And when the man repeats “Who” for the fourth time, the prophet tells him: “Your father.”

This is a truly wonderful story that teaches people how to deal with their parents. We are to obey, love and care for our parents. It is a truly a wonderful story. This story is supported by the Qur’an with a verse of appreciation to parents, especially the mother:

YUSUFALI: We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam."

Muslims use the above story and/or verse to show how much Islam appreciates women. It is important to note that the above talks about family members. When it comes to women in general, one has to include to the above many of the Islamic teachings regarding women. Let us go through some of those teachings.

First, Muslim historians claim that Arabs used to burry their baby girls alive. They make it look like this was a common theme. I do not buy that at all. Arabs used to have multiple wives, mistresses, concubines, and female slaves before and during Muhammad’s time. This does not tell me that burying baby girls alive was a common theme amongst the Arabs around Muhammad’s time. However, to his credit, Muhammad managed to put a stop to it (Qur’an 16:58-9). If this tradition was a common thing amongst the Arabs, they would not have had a great number of females compared to the males.

Second, Islam clearly puts men at a higher status than women (eat your hearts out feminists!). Look at this Qur’anic Jewel:

YUSUFALI: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).

Please note that the above verse establishes a cruel inequality between men and women:

1. Men are supporters, protectors, and maintainers of women. Why? Because they are “stronger”. Note that barbaric Arabs of the time lived a violent life warring other tribes. So, men are “stronger” in the physical sense here.

2. Men are in control. They can punish their women to the point of beating them up. To give credit to Muhammad here, there is a hadith saying that he told people not to beat their wives as hard as they beat their female slaves then go and have sex with them (I guess the female slaves used to get a good flogging, sometimes even before being raped by the male master! Isn’t that swell)

Third, Islam believes that women are not as smart as men intelligence wise. Now, in my daily work I deal with tests of statistical significance to see if there is a difference between two populations (i.e. people who are taking drug A versus people who are taking drug B). I have not seen convincing evidence that one of the sexes is “smarter” than the other, whatever that means. So, Islam’s beliefs here, is like its sun; it is setting in “murky waters”. Islam’s belief here relies on some verses in the Qur’an and a story about Muhammad saying that most of hell’s population is women. Some women asked him about that and he told them that they are more deficient in intelligence and religion. Why? Because the witness of two women is equal to the witness of one man (Qur’an 2:282). That is a deficiency in intelligence according to Muhammad. Their deficiency in religion is because of their menses. Menses was considered an illness, and so, a deficiency in religion.

Fourth, one man equals two women in many instances in Islam. A man inherits twice as much as the woman. A man’s witness in court is equal to a witness of two women. Those teaching are Qur’anically based:

YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties: let not the scribe refuse to write: as Allah Has taught him, so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, but let him fear His Lord Allah, and not diminish aught of what he owes. If they party liable is mentally deficient, or weak, or unable Himself to dictate, Let his guardian dictate faithfully, and get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her. The witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (For evidence). Disdain not to reduce to writing (your contract) for a future period, whether it be small or big: it is juster in the sight of Allah, More suitable as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves but if it be a transaction which ye carry out on the spot among yourselves, there is no blame on you if ye reduce it not to writing. But take witness whenever ye make a commercial contract; and let neither scribe nor witness suffer harm. If ye do (such harm), it would be wickedness in you. So fear Allah; For it is Good that teaches you. And Allah is well acquainted with all things. If ye are on a journey, and cannot find a scribe, a pledge with possession (may serve the purpose). And if one of you deposits a thing on trust with another, let the trustee (faithfully) discharge his trust, and let him Fear his Lord conceal not evidence; for whoever conceals it, - his heart is tainted with sin. And Allah knoweth all that ye do.

YUSUFALI: They ask thee for a legal decision. Say: Allah directs (thus) about those who leave no descendants or ascendants as heirs. If it is a man that dies, leaving a sister but no child, she shall have half the inheritance: If (such a deceased was) a woman, who left no child, Her brother takes her inheritance: If there are two sisters, they shall have two-thirds of the inheritance (between them): if there are brothers and sisters, (they share), the male having twice the share of the female. Thus doth Allah make clear to you (His law), lest ye err. And Allah hath knowledge of all things.

Fifth, women are like toys for men. Now, I know, toys are a welcome thing for my little girls. But I do not think my wife will be very appreciative if I considered her less of a complete human being. I do believe in equality of both sexes, in everything. However, Islam’s view of women was much influenced by Omar, who had a great effect on Muhammad’s sayings and revelations when it comes to women. Muhammad himself said that a woman is no more than a toy (Ahmad Toffahah, Women and Islam, Page 180). Omar himself did not fair any better (Al-Musanaf, by Ibn Mousa Al-Kanadi, Vol. 1, pt. 2, Page 263). My personal view is that Omar was the one who influenced Omar to think of women in this manner.

Sixth, women are an affliction that cannot be straightened out. How nice! Here is the evidence:

Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 62, Number 33:
Narrated Usama bin Zaid:
The Prophet said, "After me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women."
Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 62, Number 113:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "The woman is like a rib; if you try to straighten her, she will break. So if you want to get benefit from her, do so while she still has some crookedness."

Seventh, women are the most harmful thing to men. Isn’t that nice! Here is the evidence:

Muslim: Book 036, Number 6603:
Usama b. Zaid reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: I have not left after me any (chance) of turmoil more injurious to men than the harm done to the men because of women.

I could find more Islamic Jewels about women, but what I mentioned above suffices to move to conclude this article.


True, there are some nice things that the Qur’an and Muhammad say about women, mostly about one’s own parents. However, the total Islamic picture about women is not a nice one at all. Islam degrades women. They are inferior to men. Men are in control. Men are smarter and more intelligent. Men are maintainers of women. Women have the potential of harming men to a great degree more than anything else. Women are crooked. Men are the “straight” ones. Women are always under suspicion. Women are no more than toys for men.

It is evident that the way Islam treats women is not a civil and decent way at all. In my view, it is evil not to treat both sexes as equals. If a true Muslim believes otherwise, he/she needs to leave civil society for us, and move to a great hell on earth like Saudi Arabia or Iran. I believe if you go to live there a while, you will realize the errors in your backward beliefs about women.


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